Aadi Perukku, 8 Tamil Dishes To Feast On This Festival

The rains in India bring abundance in a multitude of ways and for many states, it’s a time of celebration and abundance. One lesser-known but enthusiastically celebrated festival in South India and particularly in Tamil Nadu is Aadi Perukku. This harvest festival falls during the month of Aadi – between mid-July and mid-August. It’s also often called Aadi 18 because it is celebrated on the 18th day of the Aadi month which in 2023 falls on the 3rd of August. 

The festival is thought of as a time to honour and pay homage to the flowing natural water bodies that sustain agriculture, in particular the rivers that feed the fields. This is reflected in the name of the festival itself since the word"Perukku '' means "to rise" or "multiply," and the day marks the opening of the dam for the water of the River Cauvery to flow into Tamil Nadu, the rise of the rivers and the bountiful harvest that comes as a result. Although these days, the dam isn't necessarily opened on the same day every year, people celebrate the event. 

Aadi Perukku is a female-dominated festival as the month is centred around honouring Cauvery Thaai, (Mother Cauvery) the goddess representation of the power of water itself. On the festival day, women dress in fine, colourful saris and gather at the banks of rivers or by the sea, offering pots filled with water, fruits, flowers and other offerings to the river for its sustenance and seeking blessings for their families in return. Seeds are also often sown around this time when the lands are at their most fertile, so they can be harvested in time for Pongal. 

After the rituals, people come together and the atmosphere becomes one of joy and celebration with communities sharing in music, dance and of course, feasting! Rice dishes are front and centre of this meal often with multiple different types served along with vada, avial and papad. 

Aadi Perukku is not only a celebration of nature and its abundance but also a time for community bonding and strengthening relationships. It fosters a sense of unity among the people, especially in rural areas, where agriculture plays a vital role in their livelihoods.

Video Credits: Chitra's Food Book/YouTube

Here are 8 essential dishes to include on a Aadi Perukku menu:

Sakkarai Pongal:

Sakkarai Pongal is a mouthwatering sweet dish made of jaggery, edible camphor, cardamom, cloves and the essential ghee and cashew nuts It is a must-have during Aadi Perukku, symbolising prosperity and happiness for the upcoming harvest season.

Medhu Vadai:

Vadais of all types are a hit on Aadi Perukku, with Medhu Vadai being the most common. Made from urad dal batter, seasoned with spices and deep-fried to perfection it’s rispy on the outside and soft on the inside, they make a delightful addition to the festive meal.


Tangy and tasty puliyodharai, also known as tamarind rice, is a dish made by mixing cooked rice with a special blend of tamarind paste, a variety of spices, powdered dals and cooked in sesame oil. This zesty preparation is a must-include in the Aadi Perukku menu.

Thayir Sadam (Curd Rice):

This cooling and comforting dish is enjoyed year-round but is especially loved during this festival. Rice is mixed with yoghurt and seasoned with curry leaves, mustard seeds, and green chillies. It is a staple in South Indian cuisine and a perfect addition to balance the spices of the festive meal.


Avial is a traditional mixed vegetable dish cooked in coconut and yoghurt-based gravy. It is a harmonious blend of various vegetables, such as carrots, beans, drumsticks, and raw bananas, simmered in a tangy and mildly spiced sauce. Avial represents the spirit of unity and diversity, making it an essential part of the Aadi Perukku feast.

Lemon Rice:

Lemon Rice is a simple yet flavorful dish made by mixing cooked rice with a zesty blend of lemon juice, turmeric, curry leaves, and roasted peanuts. It adds a refreshing and tangy twist to the festive meal.

Thengai Sadam (Coconut Rice):

Thengai Sadam is a fragrant and delectable rice dish prepared by mixing freshly grated coconut with cooked rice, tempered with mustard seeds, urad dal, and curry leaves. Its rich coconut flavour makes it a cherished item on the Aadi Perukku menu.


Payasam is a traditional South Indian dessert and a quintessential part of any celebration. During Aadi Perukku, various types of payasam are prepared, such as semiya payasam (vermicelli pudding) or paal payasam (rice pudding). The creamy and luscious texture of payasam marks a delightful end to the festive feast.